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one night, the charges of the sellers are this hurried marketing? Though they made in a somewhat more arbitrary man- are only paid on Saturday evening, ner than is consistent with very scrupu might they not let the Sunday pass lous truth and fairness ; that Saturday over, and make purchases on the Monevening purchasers are not only put off day sufficient to last till the Monday with inferior articles, but are made also following? Or why need they make a to pay as much as twenty per cent. above week's purchases all at once? Might they the every-day value of the best. But not buy meat and potatoes on Monday, even without imputing any such mal- coal and wood and bread on Wednespractices to the dealers,-even admits day? Might they not, in a word, by a ting that the tradesmen from whom little thought and prudence, enjoy the adthe poor must purchase are as superior vantage of buying, at their own option, to the tricks of trade as the best of on any evening of the week ? Possibly Regent-street shopkeepers—it is evi- they might; but those greatly miscondent that those who have always to be ceive both their circumstances and their served in a hurry must always be served character who consider it at all probaill. They have no time to deliberate ble that they will. It is a matter of over their purchases, to choose and pick painful certainty that vast numbers of and select what will best suit their our working population are to the last means and most nearly meet their wants; degree reckless and improvident; unable they are deprived of all opportunity of to resist the temptations of to-day, or making the little money at their dis- steadily regard and provide for the posal go as far as possible; they are, necessities of to-morrow. as it were, forced into extravagance and As economists would say, the effecmismanagement. Even if the women tive desire of accumulation is very weak of the poorer classes were good house with them ; in Mr. Mill's expressive wives, well skilled in matters of domes- phrase, the present occupies a wholly distic economy, as they are notoriously the proportionate space in their thoughts as reverse, they would fare ill in such a compared even with the immediate future. rush and press of buyers, and the work We have heard of the disciples of the which has to be done in haste and con- Jesuits of Paraguay—the Indian confusion would be ill done, however well verts—who could hardly be brought to they understood their business. As regard “next year" as a time within they are most often lamentably deficient the limits of human thought; a period in all that would be to them really for which they were bound to consider “useful knowledge,” while subject in and provide. Scarcely by unremitting the market to disadvantages which must care could their spiritual pastors and neutralize skill and render care almost temporal rulers persuade them to preimpossible, what wonder that the arti- serve sufficient seed-corn to secure an san's home is so comfortless, his wages adequate harvest; nor was it an uncomso insufficient and ill-husbanded, as they mon occurrence that the oxen used for are found in practice ? Which of the op- ploughing should be cut up for suppressions he complains against weighs soper, because their masters were hungry. heavily on him as this Saturday night And this, not because the men were marketing, of which he makes no com idle, or stupid, or sensual ; but beplaint ?
cause they were incapable of taking Of the evils here exposed there are to-morrow into account; because they three principal causes: the improvi- were, in the literal sense of the word, dence of the working-classes themselves, improvident-unforeseeing. Our Eng. their unfortunate habits of Saturday and lish artisans resemble these Indians not Sunday drinking, and the custom of a little in the economy of their domespaying wages on Saturday afternoons. tic arrangements. They think far too
The first affords the answer to the much of to-day ; far too little of this question, why might not the poor avoid day week; little or nothing of this
day six months. With their wages in Saturday market to display so many of their pocket on Saturday night, they the workman's favourite luxuries, and provide luxuries for Sunday, without makes the week-day business of the caring much if scanty comfort remain shops so dull, where they depend on for Friday next. They think more of working customers : that makes the the Sunday's ample breakfast, and even Sunday's fare so great a contrast to the luxurious dinner, than of the supper Friday's scraps. This cause of waste which they will not be able to buy on and discomfort no efforts of others can Thursday night-of Friday's meagre remove : all they can do is to remodel fare—of the dry crusts which must' arrangements which confirm and seem satisfy their hunger and their children's to excuse the costly and disastrous during the working hours of Saturday, habit. till pay-time comes round again. One Unhappily this is not all ; it is not day's feasting, and six days' fasting, is the worst. Give the working man a their choice; and it has happened to prudent and thrifty helpmate, willing employers in moderate circumstances, to and able to employ his wages to the see their labourers, earning perhaps best advantage : the Sunday holiday will 308. a week per family, take home the sadly derange her prudent calculations. delicacies of the season for their Sunday We know too well the way in which dinner, when the price was yet so high that day of rest is most often spent by that the tradesman or manufacturer of those to whom it should be more blessed 8001. or 1,0001. a year did not feel that than to any others—those whose six he could afford them. A six days' days' toil has made it most necessary to pinching follows. By Saturday after them. Most generally, Saturday night noon there is not a crust of bread in the and Sunday are thought a good occasion cottage; the children are hungry, as for “a spree”: and a “spree" seems to well they may be ; the father has done mean a prolonged visit to the gin-shop his work fasting, and the wages which or the beer-house. The London artisan he brings home must be at once spent sometimes indulges in a Sunday trip in buying food, even if they have not into the country ; too frequently he been already tithed by the publican be- merely lounges about the streets, picks up fore they reach the wife. How can these a stray acquaintance, and goes with him people postpone their purchases till Mon- to the working man's club—the publicday? Or if one week some rare good house. If the wife save her money till fortune enabled them to do so, is it not Monday, she cannot count on the forclear that the effect would only be, with bearance of her husband. In many and such habits, to make them live in com- many a case, were we to watch her home fort that week, consuming in six days from the Saturday market, we should what seven days' income had purchased; see a very sufficient reason for her hasty and that when Saturday night came expenditure of the funds which she had round, the cupboard would again be obtained from her good man immediately bare, and the Saturday market again be after he received his wages. The idle sought? We have most of us heard of day that follows is apt to make the worse improvidence than this. I was “Cottar's Saturday Night” in towns an told of one district-a district, too, of occasion, for the man who for that one good work and high wages—where the night is “flush" of money, of boozing wife keeps house by pawning clothes in a beer-shop or getting maddened with and household chattels during the week, the worst of adulterated beverages in a which the husband must for his own gin-palace; and if the week's wages comfort and satisfaction redeem on were still within his reach, it is but too Saturday night-finding this the only probable that the Sunday would be still mode of securing a sufficient share of more riotously and expensively passed. his income for herself and children. It Bad and wasteful as it is, the Saturday is this improvidence which causes the evening marketing is probably the safest
plan for wives whose husbands are that day paid their weekly stipend.
But why should wages be paid on Saturday evening ? Why should a working man' receive his money just when he has most temptation to misspend it, and least chance of spending it with full effect and advantage? Why should those who are as a class notoriously thriftless and improvident be always“ in pocket” at the moment when they have a day before them which they can devote to idleness and pleasure an evening on which they may drink their fill with the certainty of having time to-sleep off the consequences, unaroused by the bell that summons to work, and taking little heed, alas! of those that call to prayer? Is there any reason, except that such is the custom-a custom stupid, purposeless, and mischievous ? Is it that the employer may make up the account of the week's expenses at the week's end? A poor excuse this would be for an arrangement by which so much substantial injury is done to the workpeople. Why should not the week be made, for purposes of account, to end on another day? Is it that the poor may always have wherewithal to enjoy their one weekly holiday ? Probably some feeling of this kind has had something to.do with the practice. But-putting aside all other and higher considerations -is it not obvious that the expenses of a holiday should be defrayed from the surplus that remains after the ordinary expenses of living are paid-as would be the case if the artisan, receiving his wages and making his weekly purchases on Wednesday, retained something for a spree on Saturday night or an excursion trip on Sunday-not deducted before. hand from the week's income, as now happens? Is there any tenable reason why wages should be paid on Saturday (or even late on Friday night, which is found to amount nearly to the same thing) and not on Wednesday or Thursday? For if not, certainly it is absurd that mere use and custom should maintain a rule so prejudicial to the real interests of all parties concerned. The workman is tempted to waste his money
in drink, and his day of rest at the public-house. His wife is compelled to waste her portion in hurried and uneconomical marketing. She and her children suffer thereby; and her husband is none the better for his Saturday carouse, and inevitably the worse for the Sunday's debauch that too often follows. On the Monday he is -listless and slovenly at his work; by which, as well as by the deterioration which bad habits cause in his character and his skill, his employer also is a loser. It may be said, and I am afraid it is in some cases true, that if wages were paid on Thursday, men would be drunk that night, and absent or late on Friday morning. In some trades the workmen have, from incidental circumstances, so completely the upper hand that this would very probably be the case : and in these trades Monday is often wasted in intoxi. cation or idleness. The men know that the masters cannot replace them, and will not dismiss them, and they take advantage of this knowledge. But this is only the case in trades exceptionally situated ; and in all others the evils complained of would be greatly lessened, if not absolutely removed, by a mere change of the pay-day. There would not then be before the artisan, with his week's wages in his pocket, the strong temptation of a dies non wherein to enjoy himself at leisure in the tap-room; or to rest from the fatigues of a midnight carouse that very night. The necessity of resuming work at an early hour next morning would restrain him from changing his regular time of indulgence from Saturday to the pay-day; and if he still continued to drink on Saturday night, he would not do so on a newly-filled pocket.
T he experiment was tried some years ago by a clear-headed Scotch employer, who gave me the following account of its results :
“When I was in business in Glasgow “I employed about a hundred persons, "men and women. I used, as was the “practice, to pay them on Saturdays. “Saturday is rather a 'light' day in “ Glasgow, so the men had plenty of
“opportunity to get drunk that night ; a class : faults which they may regret but "practice which they often followed up cannot cure. They say, and very justly, “by remaining drunk all Sunday, in that it is not given them to keep their “which case, of course, their work was “hands" provident and sober ; but they “not good for much on Monday morning, would fully recognise the duty of offer" especially as they got drunk on whisky, ing no temptation to excess, and no " which is much worse than getting inducement to waste; and anything “ drunk on ale. It occurred to me one that will awaken them to a sense of the “ day to try whether I could not mend mischiefs of the present custom, will “the matter by altering the pay-day. I render them as a class desirous to amend “ called the men and women together, it. On their part the "evil is wrought "and told them my ideas about it. The by want of thought.” But change, "women heartily agreed with me; the where the working-classes are con“men seemed nothing loth; and the cerned, is not always an easy matter. "change was made. They were paid In their own affairs, in regard to the " thenceforward on Thursday, instead of time-honoured customs of their order “Saturday. From that time their habits and occupations, the masses share the "improved, their homes became more sturdy Toryism of Lord Eldon; and it 6 comfortable, their visits to the public- is not absolutely certain that if such a "house less frequent. The women, no boon as Thursday payment of wages “ longer obliged to do their marketing were offered them, they would not regard " in a hurry on Saturday evening, had it as some deep-laid plot for their enslave" the pick and choice of articles, instead ment. But the time may come when " of being forced, as formerly, to take they will understand their own interest "anything they could get. Before long well enough to ask it for themselves ; “I had the gratification of hearing from and the simple change, costing no “ many quarters that my people were trouble, and exciting no clamour, will “the most sober, well-to-do, and well- do more for their improvement than "conducted artisans in the trade to be many schemes of much more ambitious “found in Glasgow."
seeming. It would prevent the crowdIt is not from indifference to the ing of the week's marketing into its last welfare of their workpeople, or from five or six hours, and of the week's carelessness of their own interest, that meals into the Sunday dinner. It would employers generally continue a practice facilitate, in no slight degree, what is a so deleterious to both. Many great firms blessing of no small value to the labourer in London have changed the day of the Saturday half-holiday, now genepayment with excellent effect; some rally enjoyed in the manufacturing dishave tried to do so and failed, or been tricts of the north of England. Above compelled to return to the old practice; all, it would cure the evil that now numbers would be glad to make the does so much to demoralize the popualteration if they were convinced of its lation of our cities, and to thwart all importance and its feasibility. But, in efforts to counteract the prevalence of the first place, men do not readily re- that drunkenness which more than any cognise the evil effects of an immemorial other cause keeps them poor and discustom; they conceive them rather to contented; for it would put an end to be part of the natural and immutable the practice of filling the artisan's order of things, than results of a de- pocket with money at the very hour finite and removable cause; and employ when the tavem doors stand most iners are very generally unsuspicious that yitingly open, and no thought of toSaturday marketing, Sunday trading, morrow's work exercises a wholesome and weekly debauches, result from any restraint over the temptation to immeother influence than the natural im- diate excesses. providence and weakness of the artisan